By Nigel Edgar
KUCHING, May 11: Sarawak will implement the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English on its own starting next year.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said this included preparing teaching materials and textbooks to training about some 3,000 teachers.
“When the Minister of Education (Dr Maszlee Malik) met me recently and conveyed the Prime Minister’s (Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad) aspiration for Sarawak schools to start teaching these subjects in English, I answered his call.
“Sarawak can be the first state (in Malaysia) to implement this policy despite realising at the time that this is going to be a very tough challenge,” he said at the state-level Teachers’ Day celebration in Sri Aman today.
Abang Johari said first and foremost, the state would have to train teachers to be able to communicate and teach in English. Therefore, a specific training plan for teachers would have to be formulated.
The second challenge is preparing the teaching materials and textbooks in the English language.
“We have to find these Mathematics and Science subject textbooks in English. Meaning this policy would need a big budget. In terms of training teachers, we would have to collaborate with the Ministry of Education.
“In terms of budget, during the discussion, the Education Minister (Dr Maszlee) just looked at me. Maybe Putrajaya is having some problems (with funding), but for the sake of our children in Sarawak, I am willing to give the package (allocation) for this training,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong said school leavers who had a good grasp of English would be able to find jobs more easily than those who do not.
Therefore, he lauded Abang Johari’s decision to accept Putrajaya’s challenge for Sarawak to teach Science and Mathematics in English.
“It broadens our global outlook, expands our knowledge and connects us to the world. So, it is really important for people to uphold the English language, which has become an important communication tool across the globe.
“If we are ambitious, the ability to master the global language is definitely critical to our ability to achieve our goals and dream jobs. So, not only we would be able to work confidently in our native land but we will also be confident to be able to work and do business confidently in other parts of the world,” said Manyin.
He revealed that there were 1,265 primary schools in the state, and 222 of them were SJK(C) Chinese schools, while 152 have already followed the Dual Language Programme (DLP) by teaching in English.
“Meaning, we are left with 891 primary schools (to teach in English). So, if we want to implement this DLP, we probably need to train 3,000 teachers.
“If we want to start effective January 1 next year, so for the next 7 months (from now), we need to train about 3,000 teachers. Not so much on grammar, sentences and all these but more on proficiency in English to teach Science and Maths,” Manyin explained.
In relation to this, he also urged teachers to start inculcating interest in Science and Mathematics among their students.
He revealed that last year, the state’s students’ performance in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects were at 23.2 per cent passing rate.
“Today about 24 per cent. This means only about 24 per cent of our boys and girls after PT3 examination will be qualified to enter pure Science class in Form 4. And when it comes to Form 6, may even be lesser. When it comes to universities or institutions of higher learning, maybe only about 10 per cent,” said Manyin.
He told those present that if this situation persisted, the state might not be able to face the challenges of the Industrial Revolution 4.0 and that repetitive jobs might not be there anymore as they are taken over by robots.
“So, we really need to look at the performance of our STEM to make sure our boys and girls, from Primary 1 or during their formative years, show an interest in STEM subjects so that when it comes to Form 1 to Form 5, they will have that interest. Gradually, our performances in STEM will improve,” said Manyin. — DayakDaily